BACKGROUND: It is unclear how important bystander selection is in the genesis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
METHODS: We assessed bystander selection in a novel way. Mixed-effects linear regression was used to assess if country-level prevalence of gonococcal AMR in 30 European countries predicts homologous AMR in other bacteria. The data used was from the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network.
RESULTS: The prevalence of gonococcal ciprofloxacin resistance was found to be positively associated with AMR prevalence in E. coli (coef. 0.52; P = 0.007), Acinetobacter spp. (coef. 0.13; P = 0.044) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (coef. 0.36; P = 0.020) but not Klebsiella pneumoniae. Azithromycin resistance in N. gonorrhoeae was positively associated with macrolide resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae (coef. 0.01; P = 0.018). No association was found for cephalosporins.
CONCLUSIONS: Gonococcal AMR is linked to that in other bacteria. This finding is likely explained by high antimicrobial consumption in affected populations and provides additional motivation for strengthening antimicrobial stewardship programs.